The Triumvirate: Coal, Iron, and Steam

The steam engine might have amounted to relatively little if not for its two compatriots, coal and iron. Together they formed a kind of triumvirate, ruling over an industrial empire. Or perhaps an ecological metaphor is more appropriate – a symbiosis among three species, each nourishing one another and forming the core of a new,… Continue reading The Triumvirate: Coal, Iron, and Steam

The Age of Steam: Introduction

The most striking feature of the engineering quad of my alma mater, Rice University, are the three massive slabs of granite erected on large plinths at its center, each canted at a different angle: 45, 90, and 180 degrees. Less remarked upon, but more significant to my young, impressionable, and romantic mind, was another sculpture,… Continue reading The Age of Steam: Introduction